The establishment of the WTO gives opportunities to all countries to benefit from greater access to world markets. The global trade is expanding rapidly and significantly due to increase in consumer demands linked to growing education and awareness of consumers, internationalization of tastes and habits, developments in science and technology, and improvement in communications and transportation. Coupled with the breaking down of tariff barriers and quantitative restrictions, quality and safety have become very important in international trade. Not only have consumers all over the world become conscious of quality, but at the same time governments have realized their role in protecting the health and safety of their populations by imposing stringent regulations based on health, safety and environmental considerations.

The TBT and the SPS Agreements, while permitting countries to impose standards to protect their populations and ensure fair trade, require that certain rules and disciplines are maintained so that standards and regulations do not create unnecessary barriers to trade. Both the Agreements also encourage member countries to recognize each other's conformity assessment systems based on international standards so that products certified in one country are accepted without need for further inspection/testing by the other through 'equivalence' or 'Mutual recognition' Agreements.

The need for a strong import control mechanism is quite obvious. The need for an equally strong export control mechanism is a natural corollary of such import control systems of importing countries, which have to have a provision for recognition of export certification systems of their trading partners through equivalence agreements.